chile_paul

“Some people think football is a matter of life and death"

495 posts in this topic

Nice work winning a trophy. Hopefully better performances in the league are to follow.

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The Super Cup - normally the pre-cursor to the start of a season is actually scheduled in January in China, closer to the end of the season rather than the start (in April). As a result I'm updating on this competition prior to my normal season preview post which will follow closer to the start of the domestic season.

As winners of the CFA Cup we qualified against Guangzhou Fuli, the league winners - whilst in reality it is only a hyped up friendly I was hoping it would give me a yardstick measure of how my team, strengthened by a few new signings might compete next season.......

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A truly great performance, inspired by an early game by last years player of the season - if this is a true measure of the strength of our squad then things are looking bright!

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Not great in the league but at least you can get a proper crack at it next season. Good work to win the Super cup too.

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Well at least you're in the ACL next season. Hopefully you can rebuild them back to where they should be. And maybe sign some aging European star to China for big money? :lol:

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The ACL should be a new and interesting change. Hope the league play picks up as well.

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Chile_Paul's Career - Season 7 Preview - Guangzhou Hengda

Board Expectations:

Chinese Super League - Achieve a respectable position

CFA Cup - Not considered important

AFC Champions League - Enjoy the experience

Super Cup - Not considered important

Media Expectations:

Media Prediction: 5th

Title Odds: 16-1

My Expectations:

Chinese Super League - Mount a title challenge and ensure qualification to the Champions League by achieving an absolute minimum of 4th place

CFA Cup - Retaining the trophy would be nice

AFC Champions League - Qualify from the group stages and then enjoy the experience

Squad:

The squad has undergone some drastic changes in the off season, which really was necessary following the poor performances last season. Most noticeably the average age of the squad has dropped significantly to 24 years of age as I moved to bring in young, enthusiastic players who are keen to build a reputation for themselves, rather than sit back and relax on the back of performances from previous seasons. All areas of the squad have been improved, although I'm still most concerned regarding my defence which still feels leaky - I can't go abroad for any more foreign talent as I've reached my limit of foreign players in the squad - and there seems to be a shortage of decent Chinese defenders.

Backroom Staff:

Blaise Matoundo and Alioum Saido joined me from Bamboutos last season and added some rigour to the coaching staff who now have a fairly balanced portfolio of coaches. We're still in need of an improved physio and I'm on the look out for more decent scouts to start trawling the globe for superstars for me - I expect two of my overpaid and under-performing foreign players to get truly fed up of playing in the reserves this season and move on and I want to have the best possible replacements lined up for them. I also need a new youth coach to join to fill my quota of coaches that the board will allow me to have to start turning some of the young talent I've just bought in into world beaters!

Transfers:

£3.7m spent, much of it split over 48 months as a staggering 14 players arrived in the transfer window and only 2 departing. There are going to be a few unhappy players from the team I inherited cooling their feet in the Reserves until they realise that it really is best for them to move on to a club where they're likely to get first team football.

Ma Qinqtao: At £1.3 million Ma is my most expensive arrival, to be honest I've probably overpaid for him as he is a player for the future who will get some exposure to certain matches and be a regular on the bench rather than somebody to slot straight into the first team. However as I mentioned before I'm very light in defence and really needed to bring in some depth, so it seemed the right thing to do.

Joseph Njock (YP16): I couldn't resist bringing in this guy from my old club Bamboutos - not only do I think he can do a job for me this season, his strength will really differentiate him from the local Chinese players who tend to score very low on the strength and other physical aspects, but I also really want to see how he develops as he is one of the best youth prospects I've ever had come through a team. A snip at £400k!

Wu Xinghan: Believe it or not, my scouts found this striker floundering in the U-19 team for Shandong having never played a match for them - he arrives on a £275k transfer which is an absolute bargain and within 2 weeks of arriving he got an immediate call up to the Chinese national team. I feel slightly bad for benefitting from what can only be a bug, but there loss is my gain :)

Lu Nan: A right winger with huge potential who should develop into a star for the national team - I'm not popular with the fans for bringing somebody in from rivals Lianoning, but I'm sure he'll win them around once he starts playing

Nicolas D'Assero - Another foreign player, this young striker from Argentina replaces Cleo as my primary foreign striker with Cleo dropping into the reserves. He'll have to be willing to sit on the bench on occassions however as I can only play 3 of my 6 foreign players in any one game

Lu Jiang - A player for the future, Lu will get some game time this year but primarily his focus needs to be on developing so he becomes first choice in the next few years.

Finances:

Wage Budget: £228,484 p/w

Wage Bill: £123,362 p/w

Transfer Budget: £8.86m

Bank Balance: +£21,690,581

Average Ticket price: £8.70

Season Ticket Holders: 2,447

Season Ticket price: £106

Estimated club value: £19.25M

Reputation:

Club Reputation: Continental

Ranking within China: 5th

Chinese world ranking: 65th

CSL competition ranking within Asia: 9th

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For those of you who haven't had the opportunity of playing in the Asian confederation, I thought it might be worthwhile explaining how the slightly complicated structure of the AFC Champions League operates - it's still taking me a little while to get my head around it!!

Champions League, AFC Cup or Presidents Cup?

First of all, which competition are we playing in? Well unlike the European continental structure, there is very limited cross over between teams in the same league competing in the different continental cups. For example, in Europe 4 teams from England compete in the Champions League and 2 in the Europa League and 3rd placed teams in the Champions league groups drop into the Europa league - this isn't how it operates in Asia.

Instead, in Asia qualification to the various continental competitions is based on league strength (with the exception of the preliminary rounds of the Champions League where teams from 4 of the developing nations compete to enter the premier Champions League competition at the group stages with the losers dropping into the AFC Cup.)

For Guangzhou, the only important point to note is that all of the 4 qualifying Chinese teams qualify directly for the Champions league group stages.

Qualifying Nations:

Champions League - South Korea, China, Japan, Australia, Thailand, Qatar, UAE, Saudi Arabia, Uzbekistan, Iran

AFC Cup - Syria, India, Kuwait, Iraq, Jordan, Oman, Lebanon, Indonesia, Vietnam, Hong Kong, Singapore

Presidents Cup - Tajikistan, Kyrgystan, North Korea, Nepal, Cambodia, Myanmar etc etc.

Group Stages

32 teams enter the group stages and are split into a fairly standard 8 groups of 4; the one major differences is that the groups are segregates into 4 groups of West Asian and 4 groups of East Asian teams.

As a result I'd argue that my task of qualifying to the knock out stages is going to be harder than if I'd had West Asian teams in my group - instead I have to compete against teams from Japan, Australia, South Korea and Thailand

Knock Out stages

The first knock out round is once again regionalised and is based on a single leg format only - so the pressure is really on in that game. After that as it moves into the quarter finals, it returns to a fairly standard 2 leg knock out competition - should I get that far.

Progress Update

I had received what I consider to be a tough draw, up against last years runners-up and clear Group favourites Seongnam, Japanese cup winners FC Tokyo and Australia's Sydney FC.

With a home game up first against FC Tokyo I knew I had to take the initiative and aim for 3 points in what was going to be a very tough group and things were looking very bad as I fell behind in only the 2nd minute. The team re-grouped though and started to dominate the game and shortly after half time I equalised and went on to score the winner in the 65th minute, 3 absolutely imperative points.

Next up, we were away to Seongnam in the hardest game in the group - they had drawn away to Sydney FC in the first game which gave me an outside hope that we might snatch a point, but it wasn't to be despite our best efforts. Although we matched them for possession and chances they had the greater cutting edge and scored in the dying seconds of the first half. Early in the second half we had a great chance to equalise as they dragged down one of players in the box, Joseph Njock stepped up to take the spot kick and dispatched a clinical effort into the top left corner - but somehow their keeper pulled off a world class save to tip it round the post with his finger tips!!

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So, no great surprises in the group - it's going to be a tussle between myself and FC Tokyo for 2nd place, with Sydney having a chance to get back in the running if they manage to pick up points at our home stadium in the next game.

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The game against Sydney really was a game that we needed to be winning to maintain our chances of qualification, and win we did, in what was a strangely open match with goals flying in at either end with both goalkeepers struggling to keep the ball out of the back of the net. In reality we were lucky to pick up 3 points as they had more than their fair share of the game. It was perhaps our flying start that ultimately made the difference in the end, we were 2-0 up after 7 minutes and 3-o up by half time. They hit back immediately in the second half, but we scored a 4th to maintain the 3 goal lead and whilst they quickly scored a 2nd they couldn't get any closer.

That meant that a draw or a win away to Tokyo would really put us in the drivers seat, but we were never really in the game. We conceeded an early penalty which they slotted away (meaning that Alex has now scored against us in the 2nd minute in the first game and the 4th minute in the second game!) and despite Zhang Chendong equalising in the 28th minute, they were having a field day down the left flank against my young right back and right winger, resulting in the left winger who was revelling in their unique wide 4-2-2-2 formation picking up a goal either side of half time to put the result out of reach.

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All still to play for, but Seongnam who I play next are starting to pull out of reach

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A stunning 100% start to the new league season immediately cast aside the memory of such a terrible season last year as my new signings gelled with their new team mates to deliver some impressive results.

I still have some concerns about the strength of my defensive unit, but using the old adage of attack is the best form of defence, we pushed our way forward and ensured that in the few moments the opposition team had the ball, they were just clearing it up the field rather than worrying how to break us down.

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The result against Beijing was particularly pleasing and is reminiscent of the 5-2 defeat we inflicted upon them in the CFA cup quarter final last year - I had thought they might have fielded a weakened team against me in the cup though, so this really was the first measure I had of how strong this new team might be.

The second performance of note was the win over Dalian - they had taken the lead early on and we had to respond, we fought back but again my defence was as leaky as a sieve and we conceeded weak goals. This was also the first time that my attack wasn't firing on all cylinders, with glorious chances just sneaking wide of the post or over the crossbar, but in the 70th minute we took the lead for the first time to go 3-2 up, scoring another shortly afterwards. They scored a 3rd but couldn't snatch the equaliser. In all we only had 3 shots on target all game and somehow ended up winning 4-3!!

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Nice to see us sitting pretty at the top of the table, but my main contendors for the title, Shandong and Fuli are only just behind.....

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Very impressive in both the league and Champions League so far :thup:

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Decent start in the CL and a great start in the league. Hope you can keep it up.

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Thanks all, really appreciate the support!

I just thought I'd share this result against one of my title rivals prior to my next update tomorrow - I have to say it's left me speechless - I'm not sure how a team that was so bereft of quality last year with the addition of just a few youngsters could pull off this result!

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You have turned Guangzhou around in one season :applause:

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Great start to the new season!!

Thanks Great Traveler - just need to maintain it now!

You have turned Guangzhou around in one season :applause:

Cheers buzz2k7 - I can't quite believe the scale of the turnaround either! Great to see somebody new posting on my career!

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Back in the Champions League we had two very tough games - home to group favourites Seongnam before heading over to Australia for an away match against Sydney - that we need to prepare for.

I had to be realistic and recognise that we didn't face much chance of a win against Seongnam, and with FC Tokyo level with me on points but ahead on goal difference I had to hope that they slipped up against Sydney.

What actually happened was a huge shock, as I demolished Seongnam 5-1. We flew out of the starting blocks with 2 goals from Duan Xin in the first 20 minutes and in the 24th minute when Xin was fouled outside the box resulting in him being carried off the field on a stretcher our captain and free kick specialist Liu Jian stepped up and dispatched the free kick into the top left hand corner. At this point Seongnam started to wake up and smell the coffee - they pulled one goal back in the 33rd minute and started to look more competitive in the match, but we held them off until half time. In the second half the game became more stretched as they looked for a way back into the match and this presented more opportunities for us - which we duly took, taking our final score to 5-1 in one of the clubs most famous victories of all time!

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Elsewhere in the group Sydney had beaten Tokyo, which sealed my qualification bar a mathematical miracle in the final game - but importantly the win against Seongnam would allow me to top the group and face an easier home tie against a second placed team from one of the other groups in the single legged second round. We were nowhere near as good against Sydney, edging to a 2-1 victory, but Seongnam were poor once again, slipping up against Tokyo to give us the top spot and a home tie against bitter rivals Beijing in the second round!!

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Very dominant wins in the Champions League :thup:

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Good work topping the group, compared to being near the bottom of the league not long ago.

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Looking good for a great season. What a drastic improvement!

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Terrific improvement mate. :thup:

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Two nice wins there :thup:.
Very dominant wins in the Champions League :thup:
Good work topping the group, compared to being near the bottom of the league not long ago.

Cheers guys - still a very long way to go though!

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Looking good for a great season. What a drastic improvement!
Terrific improvement mate. :thup:

Everything is looking very rosy at the minute, but can it last?

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I don't think I can or would want to say any more than this.......WOW! What a run of results!

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Obviously I'm disappointed by the 2 goals conceeded at Rizhiquan, but otherwise I think that has to be my most dominant months results in Football Manager to date - I'm now averaging over 4 goals a game, so that fans should be getting good value for money.

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Unsurprisingly, the team managed a clean sweep of the monthly awards:

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Back in the Champions League we had a one legged home tie against rivals Beijing - based on recent form in the league this should have been one of the easier ties that I could have been drawn in, mainly as a result of the fantastic first placed that we'd managed in the group stages.

We did have a couple of injuries to contend with, in particular up front, which gave a massive opportunity for youngter Lu Jiang to come into the starting eleven and really prove his credentials.

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A great result and a stunning performance from the youngster puts us into the Quarter Final - we now see a break in the continental competition until August and we will have to wait several months before we find out who we draw in the next round - but the draw will be dominated with Iranians and Saudi Arabian's - so we better get ready for some long trips for the away leg!

Second round results

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A short month in June as the CSL takes a break to make way for the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia - for the 2 games that we do have however we'll be impacted by the call up of 5 of my star players to the China squad for the 2 pre-World cup friendlies.

This therefore will be a real test for my squad depth - can we keep our run going..........

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So, our unbeaten run continued, but we've lost our 100% record with two results which really were quite disappointing in truth. In the 0-0 draw with Hangzhou we dominated the game in our normal form, but just lacked that cutting edge in front of goal and missed too many good opportunities.

Against Chanba we were much better in front of goal and could have scored more with 6 clear cut chances on goal, but we were thwarted by a great performance from their keeper and were weak ourselves at the back - very disappointing to concede 3 goals in any game!

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As a result we drop down into second place, albeit with games in hand - first game back after the break for the World Cup is a key home fixture against league leaders Shenhua - so we need to get back up to full speed fairly sharpish!

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Doing great in the league, unbeaten and 2 games in hand, keep it up!

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Somebody is popular! Some tempting offers, but I'm in the middle of a project with Guanghzou and the offer would have to be staggerring to tempt me away this season.

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World Footballing News

Given that the Chinese season runs from February to November, the World Footballing News will now be a mid season update in China, but remain consisent with the end of the season in the majority of European leagues:

  • In the English Premier League it was Sunderland who made the early running at the start of the season, bankrolled by tycoon Mostafa Ettehad's millions which have allowed Sunderland to spend in excess of £30m per season for the past 4 seasons they made a flying start to the new campaign and sat pretty at the top of the table after 7 games. It wasn't to last however and after a slump to 7th place by March, manager Steve Eyre was sacked and replaced by Wolves' Keith Millen - the team showed little improvement after that and finished in 7th place
  • Once again, it was Southampton, led by manager Anton Pierre who upset the apple cart and secured European football for a second consecutive season by securing 5th place once again. Pierre has been hailed as a hero by the loyal Southampton fans, and they'll be hoping that he doesn't get poached by a bigger club over the close season and instead stays on to challenge for silverware next season
  • Following the sacking of Laurent Blanc at the end of last season, Tottenham turned to Paul Lambert to try and reverse the clubs fortunes. Lambert, who had previously been at Stoke fell into the same pattern as previous unsuccessful managers at Perryman Park however and could only turn in a mid table 8th place finish. The heady days of Harry Redknapp's push towards Champions League football seem a distant memory for Spurs fan's now, and funds appear tight for Lambert, given that the club has turned a net transfer profit in 4 of the last 5 seasons in an attempt to balance the books - even so, Lambert will know that the board and fans will be expecting an improved performance next season if he is still to be in a job in a years time
  • Bolton turned around a significant profit on the sale of Goran Vukcic to Scudetto champions Juventus in a £12.75m move. Bolton fans hoped that the sale of Vukcic who had only joined the club for £2.8m 2 seasons previously would allow the club to strengthen and secure Premier League survival for the 17th consecutive season. In the end it almost turned into disaster for all parties - Juventus fell to a disappointing 5th place with Vukcic unable to recreate the form he'd shown in the Premier League and Bolton had a very poor season, surviving but only just with a meagre 33 points to their name. Manager Erwin Koeman jumped from the sinking ship in March to join Real Betis in Spain leaving Eric Roy to join from Grenoble to mastermind the clubs survival in the remaining few months of the season.
  • The silver lining on Bolton's season would have been to lift the FA Cup against rival cup specialists Stoke - one of the two clubs has been the runner up in the FA Cup final in 4 of the past seasons - alas, it wasn't to be and it was the Bolton fans who had to once again make that long journey back North with nothing to show for their efforts as New Zealander Chris Wood scored the winning goal for the Potters
  • Back in the Premier League, Everton pulled of the Great Escape after sacking manager Mauricio Pochettino with the club in 20th place at the end of October - to replace him they poached young and talented English manager Gareth Southgate from fellow Premier League side Nottingham Forest. Everton ended up in the comfort of mid-table obscurity in 13th place, one place above Nottingham Forest themselves, who had hired Glenn Roeder to replace Southgate.
  • Roeder himself had been sacked by Sheffield Wednesday only a few days after Pochettino, for the same crime of leading the club into 20th place. Wednesday appointed Danny Cadamarteri who had impressed at Wigan by leading their charge back into the Premier League. Wigan chairman Dean Hewitt showed a cool head though, clearly as a result of many years of mentoring from previous chairman and Wigan hero Dave Whelan by enticing Slaven Bilic in as manager from Spartak Moscow and it was Wigan fans and Hewitt who had the last laugh as Cadamarteri's Sheffield Wednesday couldn't pull themselves out of their poor run of form and ended up relegated in 20th place, whilst Wigan secured a comfortable 15th place, 19 points clear of the drop
  • Man City's 3 year wait for a trophy since the appointment of Rafa Benitez was too long for their tycoon owners and he was sacked with the club floundering in 12th place. Club hero Roberto Mancini returned for a second spell to the club which he'd led to the Premier League title in 2013 and 2014 and to the Champions League final in 2014, before he was tempted away to Barcelona. Mancini quickly started to work his magic again and recovered the team to 4th place, but other teams we'll be looking on nervously for next season to see if Mancini can recreate his previous success
  • Benitez wasn't out of work for long however and when Arsenal's Quique Flores stepped down to return home to manage Atletico Madrid, Benitez stepped in to pick up the reigns - incredibly Benitz has now managed 3 of the biggest clubs in the English game now - only Man Utd and Chelsea to go - and he might not have long to wait before he's back on the job hunt as their was significant dissatisfation at the Emirates as Arsenal only managed to finish in 6th place, their lowest placing in 5 years.
  • Sheffield appears to be the hotbed of young talent in the English game at the minute with impressive performances from several youngsters - most notably Sheffield United's Kevin O'Donghue who picked up the PFA Young Player of the Year award and is tipped to have a big impact at this summer's World Cup. Young defender Tristan Holmes also had a great season in which he picked up his first 2 England caps - their performances pushed Sheffield United to an impressive 8th place. On the other side of the city it was Iranian Homayoun Heidari who was impressing all with his performances from left back; these however weren't good enough to secure the clubs future in the Premier League and Heidari's agent was quick to find him another club willing to stump up a £7.25m transfer fee - and Heidari will therefore be performing in front of the Anfield Kop next season
  • At the bottom of the Championship it was a very sad season for Fulham fans - after Al Fayed's millions had dried up in 2012 they had known that life was going to be tough, but financial mismanagement has led to a disaster with the club entering administration, being relegated from the Championship in last place and seeing a 10 point deduction (which made no overall difference on the standings). To top it all off the club had to reduce the capacity of the ground to just over 23,000 because they couldn't afford the cost of maintaining and securing all areas of the stands. Optimistic fans are hoping that a top to bottom cleansing of the club and an opportunity to start again is exactly what's needed, but memories of that wonderful run to the Europa League final will feel very distant as they travel to Away matches at Newport Counties stadium on dank, cold, Wednesday nights in December!

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Nice being linked to the likes of Zenit.

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Great job opportunities! Are you looking at moving? Loved the Footballing news again :)

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Great job opportunities! Are you looking at moving? Loved the Footballing news again :)

I'm staying for the time being - nice to be linked though :thup:

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Poor Fulham :(

Seems to be a fairly common story in most long term saves - essentially they don't have the financial muscle to survive at the level of the Premier league over the long term. Newport Counties rise seems to be another common pattern over longer games as well - so far they're rise has been meteoric and I'd happily put money on them making it into the Premier League before Fulham get back there!!

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The upgrade of our training and youth facilities is completed, and no sooner have the builders laid down their tools, they're told to pick them back up again and get back to work with the next stage of improvements - this time a significant £4.4m investment to make our facilities comparable with the best in the league.

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FIFA World Cup 2018 - Russia

Plenty of shocks in the World Cup group stages as Group G emerged as the famous Group of Death with South Korea and Ukraine progressing at the expense of giants Italy and Brazil. Iran were the other shock team to make it through to the second round, helped by a battling point against group winners England they progressed at the expense of Uruguay.

Fans of both Finland and Northern Ireland were overjoyed to have made it to the World Cup finals, something that is certainly not a regular occurrence - however despite great performances in qualifying they struggled to perform when it really mattered, only picking up a point each in their 3 games.

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There were far fewer shocks in the knock out phase of the competition - although Iran went so, so close to knocking out Germany, eventually falling at the dreaded penalty shoot out - and South Africa had a great run to the semi-finals helped somewhat by a fortunate draw which avoided any of the traditionally big nations.

In the end though it was two of those big nations who made it through to the final and in a goal fest, it was France who triumphed thanks to 2 extra time goals from substitute Gueida Fofana

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Roll of Honour

Premier League

2011/12 - 1st Liverpool 2nd Man City 3rd Man United

2012/13 - 1st Man City 2nd Man United 3rd Liverpool

2013/14 - 1st Man City 2nd Liverpool 3rd Man United

2014/15 - 1st Liverpool 2nd Arsenal 3rd Man City

2015/16 - 1st Liverpool 2nd Man Utd 3rd Chelsea

2016/17 - 1st Man Utd 2nd Liverpool 3rd Arsenal

2017/18 - 1st Liverpool 2nd Man Utd 3rd Man City

FA Cup

2011/12 - Winners Aston Villa Runners-Up Brighton

2012/13 - Winners Man Utd Runners-Up Stoke

2013/14 - Winners Arsenal Runners-Up Bolton

2014/15 - Winners Sheff Utd Runners-Up Man Utd

2015/16 - Winners Chelsea Runners-Up Wolves

2016/17 - Winners Wolves Runners-Up Sunderland

2017/18 - Winners Stoke Runners-Up Bolton

League Cup

2011/12 - Winners Man Utd Runners-Up Watford

2012/13 - Winners Derby Runners-Up Arsenal

2013/14 - Winners Stoke Runners-Up Wolves

2014/15 - Winners Liverpool Runners-Up West Ham

2015/16 - Winners Man City Runners-Up Tottenham Hotspurs

2016/17 - Winners Aston Villa Runners-Up Man City

2017/18 - Winners Tottenham Runners-Up Everton

Champions League

2011/12 - Winners Real Madrid Runners-Up Lyon

2012/13 - Winners Real Madrid Runners-Up Liverpool

2013/14 - Winners Real Madrid Runners-Up Man City

2014/15 - Winners Man City Runners-Up Man Utd

2015/16 - Winners Barcelona Runners-Up Arsenal

2016/17 - Winners Barcelona Runners-Up PSG

2017/18 - Winners Juventus Runners-Up Real Madrid

Europa League

2011/12 - Winners Sevilla Runners-Up Marseille

2012/13 - Winners PSG Runners-Up Arsenal

2013/14 - Winners Fiorentina Runners-Up Lyon

2014/15 - Winners Wolfsburg Runners-Up Arsenal

2015/16 - Winners Man Utd Runners-Up Basel

2016/17 - Winners Liverpool Runners-Up Napoli

2017/18 - Winners Dortmund Runners-Up Man City

European Championships

2012 - Winners Spain Runners-Up Italy

2016 - Winners France Runners-Up Germany

African Cup of Nations

2013 - Winners Mali Runners-Up Congo

2015 - Winners South Africa Runners-Up Cameroon

2017 - Winners Morocco Runners-Up Ghana

World Cup

2014 - Winners Mexico Runners-Up France

2018 - Winners France Runners-Up Germany

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A disappointing first season for my replacement at Bamboutos, as most of our star players are sold off for a pittance and rivals Coton Sport manage the double :(

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[TD]Bamboutos

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[TD]2017/18

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[TD]Elite One

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[TD]3rd

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With the break for the World Cup over and done with, and with the added benefit of my players returning early and having a well earned break after China failed to make it past the group stages, we returned to the league full of confidence that we could put our tiny blip behind us as we headed into the biggest game of the season against title rivals Shenhua.

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Unfortunately things didn't proceed as planned and we were quite frankly thrashed by a better side and in particular by their star Brazilian striker, Marcelo, who picked up a hatrick. We had been 4-1 down by half time and really looked out of form - despite making a recovery in the second half it wasn't until the 89th minute that we picked up a second goal as consolation.

At the time, this didn't appear a complete disaster as we had bottom of the table Chongqing next up at home, but again we were really poor, conceeding an early goal from a free kick in the 90th minute - even this didn't spur us on though and it took some desperate measures in the final 15 minutes to get an equaliser thanks to one of my young midfielders who came on from the bench to score on his debut. That now makes it 4 games without a win and we're playing as poorly as we did last season!

Things did improve in the next 3 games including 2 good wins against Fuli and bitter rivals Beijing but we're definitely not as slick as we have been and it is feeling much harder to pull off a result. Having been miles ahead of the field, we've really been pulled back into the pack fighting it out for the title.

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The game in hand gives you the edge.

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I'd already included the first game of August against Beijing in the mid season update, so with only 2 more games in August this will only be a brief catch up

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2 more wins extends our new winning run to 5 and helps us keep pace with Shenhua who also won both games. Whilst I'm pleased to win I'm also conscious that we're still struggling to perform and are a long, long way from the style of performances that saw us score 4 goals a game and hammer Shandong 7-0. Notably all 4 goals in the last 2 games have come from midfield or from my central defender heading in from set pieces.

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Despite the poor nature of the performances, I was still awarded my 3rd manager of the month award

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The Asian Games follows at the end of the domestic season and with no real issues with fixture congestion between domestic and international games (it does impact slightly on the CFA Cup semi and final, but I'm not overly bothered about our performances in this competition given we one it last year) I thought I'd jump back into international football. Just like the Olympic Games I'll be able to pick 3 over age players and given most of the U-23's will be coming from my squad I'm quite optimistic about our chances. If everything goes well I might stay on for the Olympic Games qualification competition.

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The team is starting to re-find its rhythm now as we continue to extend our unbeaten run to 9 games in the league. The win at Dalian was another goal fest after the 4-3 reverse fixture earlier in the season - just before half time I really though we might end up with the same scoreline as they pulled the result back to 3-2 but following some harsh words with our defence at half time they tightened up at the back and our strikers continued on to have a field day.

Wu Xinghan had a stunning game against Tianjin capping the performance off with a stunning curling shot to secure his hattrick!

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Elsewhere in the league Shenhua have dropped off the pace and it looks as though the title is going to come down to a battle between myself and Shandong - incredible given the way we wiped the floor with them in a 7-0 victory earlier in the season. They are also now on a 9 game winning streak, so whilst we remain in the lead the away game against them with only 3 games left in the season will be critical

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An average intake this year with 2 candidates worthy of a special mention

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Peng Zhihai - already rated as a 1 star for current performance he does look like a genuine candidate for success - I do have a lot of defensive midfielders in the team though so he's not going to get many early chances to show what he can do

Guo Mengmeng - he's fast but he is desperately lacking in strength - this seems to be a common characteristic in Chinese regen's which is one of the reasons I almost always have a foreigner as one of my 2 front men to bully the opposition defenders.

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So, after a long break the Champions Leagu returns and we have the home leg up first against Saudi Arabian league runners up Al-Ahli. Prior to playing in this competition I had assumed that the standard of football in West Asia would be significantly below that of China, Japan and South Korea - however looking at their performances in this competition in recent years I definitely think I've got something to worry about. I'll also be up against a familiar face in the opposition dug-out the form of ex-Australian legend and former West Ham, Blackburn and Everton player Lucas Neill.

The first leg couldn't have gone much better as we continued our domestic form on the continental stage. Once again it was a tight affair, but we had that extra cutting edge in front of goal, taking a 2-0 lead into the second leg. We could have put the tie to bed in the final minutes, but youngster Joseph Njock put his penalty straight at the keeper, his second consecutive penalty miss - he may well drop down the pecking order for the next spot kick. Luckily this didn't come back to haunt us, although it did get tight at times in the second leg. In a tie that Al-Ahli dominated the second goal was absolutely key - they had taken an early lead and were dominating possession and chances, but on one of our few forays forward we were awarded a corner and whilst the initial header was won at the near post by their defender he wasn't able to clear it and Zhang Chendong dived in to poke the ball into the back of the net. That crucial away goal meant that they would need 3 to progress and with only 25 minutes left we comfortably rode out the remainig time to progress to the semi-finals.

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Next up we have Japanese side Sanga - they were the league runners up last season in Japan, but are currently having a shocker of a season as they prop up the rest of the table and look favourites for relegation - could this be the perfect opportunity to get through to the final?

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Peng looks like he could go very far in almost any league! :)

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October was always going to be a really tough month that would test my squads strength and depth and really challenge our staying power. We faced 6 league matches as well as a 2 legged semi-final in the Champions League which would see us travelling to Japan. To top it all off at the end of the month we had one of our hardest league fixtures of the season, an away match against title challengers Shandong who were desperate for revenge after the 7-0 spanking we'd administered in the reverse fixture.

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The first of the month couldn't have gone any better than I'd hoped for - we picked up a really good win against Hangzhou and went on to pick up 9 points and not conceded a goal in the next 3 games. In the meantime Shandong were dropping points and it looked like a real possibility that we'd secure the title before we even had to play them! The next game against bottom of the table Chongqing would give us the title if we won and Shandong failed to win; however yet again we failed to break down the bottom of the table side after they took an early lead and once again we left it to the final desperate push to equalise. So, we hadn't done enough to secure the title, but Chongqing had needed the win to stay up and as a result of our late equaliser they were condemned to relegation.

In the next game however our form returned and we picked up a comfortable 2-0 win against 5th placed Chanba to secure the club's first league title in 4 years!!

The game against Shandong was a disappointment if I'm honest, although I did rest a few players I had hoped we'd be strong enough to win. Even so our aggregate score over the course of the season is 10-2 and we lifted the title so who cares!

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